- Hardcover: 328 pages
- Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1 edition (December 11, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0252030982
- ISBN-13: 978-0252030987
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,302,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"MAXIMUM CLARITY" AND OTHER WRITINGS ON MUSIC Hardcover – December 11, 2006
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The collected writings of composer Ben JohnstonDescribed by New York Times critic John Rockwell as “one of the best non-famous composers this country has to offer,” Ben Johnston reconceives familiar idioms--ranging from jazz to Southern hymns--using just intonation. Johnston studied with Darius Milhaud, Harry Partch, and John Cage, and is best known for his String Quartet No. 4, a complex series of variations on Amazing Grace. This volume reveals he is also a truly literate composer, who writes and speaks about music with eloquence and charm. “Maximum Clarity” and Other Writings on Music spans forty years and brings together forty-one of Johnston’s most important writings, including many rare and several previously unpublished selections. They include position papers, theoretical treatises, program notes, historical reflections, lectures, excerpts from interviews, and letters, and they cover a broad spectrum of concerns--from the technical exegesis of microtonality to the personal and the broadly humanistic. The volume concludes with a discography of all commercially available recordings of Johnston’s music.
About the Author
Ben Johnston taught theory and composition from 1951 to 1984 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Music. Now retired, he lives in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Bob Gilmore is a reader in musicology at Dartington College of Arts in England. He is the author of Harry Partch: A Biography.
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Top customer reviews
Ben Johnston has been thinking about this paradigm his entire life. This is well reflected in these writings, a wonderful body of theory.But theory alone is half the process, the story;It also proves that Johnston practices what he preaches. Here we have wonderful information,thoughts on his marvelous musical works, in particular his 10 string quartets.
This collection is a good headstart for anyone wishing to pursue this line of looking,delve deeper, searching for a new grammar for music, to set a new basis in how we hear,create and perceive.
Johnston also situates his more theoretical musical writings on extended just intonation within a broader political and social context, one that is unavoidable.
It was clear that the late Sixties libertarian demonstrations came to influence composers and artist on a deep level, changing the "rules of the game", that something had to change. Johnston explains this more as "bridge-building" to these new pathways for making the musical product more accessible and giving like an aesthetic nutrient to a wider populace.
It is curious that this "multitude", this populace, those who consume culture has only graduated to ever complex levels of communicative spaces. The internet certainly has made available aesthetic experiences that we perhaps may have engaged once or twice in a lifetime, and has also made the what was "remote" theories of Just Intonation, now more available to a wider populace. Since those times in the streets, protesting a new musical language is still part of the agenda, a desired goal that needs coordination with this larger social populace. Otherwise we simply have yet another form of elitism,to soar ever higher in the sky of musical abstraction; a realm the avant-garde scoffed at beginning with the Surrealists, then Fluxus then Situationists.
This nice well-edited collection spans Johnston's rich musical life. His music has touched every genre in very real ways, from,opera,vocal, the performative theatrical arts, to abstract process musical forms.
From the early roads of his life, a student of Harry Partch and John Cage, he searched for his voice within serial procedures,the proportionality of time, of rhythm and pitch mixed into one freezed frame to his on-going developments of Just Intonation. His string quartets are admirable a compact conceptual mirror of his life long developments.
You have all various kinds of writings: from lectures at academic seminars,talks on just intonation in Europa, to theoretical essays, position pieces, program notes, and reflections on other composers of influence.